News / Africa

Breaking Tradition: Men in Malawi Fight Gender-Based Violence

Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe.
Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe.
Lameck Masina
The Malawian non-government organization (NGO), Men for Gender Equality Now, is challenging the male stereotype by working to end violence against women. They are focusing on men as the agents of change.

Men in Malawi have been considered part of the problem of violence against women because of cultural attitudes that assume male superiority. The NGO's national chairperson Marcel Chisi said their recent studies indicate that 85 percent of gender based violence in Malawi is done by men towards women and girls.  

“When we look at the statistics, men are mentioned many times as being perpetrators of violence and not necessarily part of the solution," Chisi said. "And it’s high time we don’t just point at men as a problem because there are many men of good will who don’t abuse women and therefore [we thought that ] ‘why don’t we take advantage of some of men who are good ambassadors and work with them to transform their fellow men."

Husband school

Chisi said one of his group’s core activities is what is known as ‘husband’s school’ where young and old men are taught how to become responsible fathers and how they can take care of a family.

“It is drawn from women’s groupings like in bridal showers, kitchen top-ups and wardrobe top-ups where they share family practices. But yet when a young man is going into marriage, he is not told anything," explained Chisi. "What it means is that many young men have gone into marriages without necessarily knowing what to do in there.”

Chisi said his group boasts a membership of about 50,000 men across the country. They also work to address a number of other issues which were previously regarded as the female domain like the role of men in HIV prevention, child rearing and men’s responsibilities in the reproductive rights of women.

“On this we are saying: what is the role of men in deciding how many children a women would have in a family? Because normally some women have no say in their families and if men are not [at] a level of empowerment where they can negotiate at how many children they have, then we will have a man who will be bringing in so many children even they know they can’t take care of them,” Chisi noted.
 
The problem of gender violence here is well documented. In 2006, Marietta Samuel, 33, a mother of three children in the central district of Dowa, had her arms cut off by her former husband, Herbert Samuel, in an attack fueled by jealousy.  Her husband was sentenced to a 15 years in jail.

Recently a local newspaper reported that police in the central district of Kasungu arrested a man for slicing his wife’s private parts for refusing to have sex with him in the afternoon.

Despite legal action, the problems persist and that is why Chisi’s group thinks a new approach is needed to prevent the problem rather than just punish it.

Women’s groups, like Maxwell Kaliati’s Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women, applaud Men for Gender Equality Now. “For us we have seen that this is a very important section because sometimes when you use women’s groups people think that we are being [biased]," Kaliati stated. "But when they [men] are seeing fellows doing the activities, they feel encouraged and think that this is a real case for us to change our behavior.”

Changing attitudes

And some women say it is making a real difference in their lives. Rhoda Mankhwala, a resident of Mbayani Township in Blantyre, said her husband is a different man since he attended one of the meetings organized by the NGO.

“My husband is now a changed person unlike in the past when he used to beat me up for no valid reasons," Mankhwala explained. "He would beat me up for coming late from the market even in the presence of my friends. But when he attended one of the meetings organized by the grouping there is indeed a change”.

Besides Malawi, a similar initiative is being implemented in other African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More